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Mark H Dooley


1LT Dooley wrote a letter to his parents on his way to war and gave it to his father, Peter, for safekeeping, only to be opened if he did not return. “It’s unusually hard to put down how you want people to remember you,” Mark wrote in his farewell letter. The finest moments in my life were when I realized that everything Dad had tried to help me avoid had come true. I always tried to think how you would have handled something.”

To his mother, Marion, he wrote that he hadn’t joined the battle out of some misguided allegiance, “but for our sacred honor. Don’t be angry or let sadness dominate your heart,” the son wrote. “Be proud.”

Mark had advice for a younger sibling, also named Peter: “Remember, time is a gift.”

That was typical of Mark, his younger brother said. “He was always looking out for other people. Despite his great strength, his strongest muscle was his heart.”

When he left for Iraq, Mark put two photos on his desk, one of himself in his military uniform and one in his police uniform. He left a note, too. “This is the desk of Patrolman Mark H. Dooley,” it said. The last line in the note: “All people deserve freedom.”

“He was an amazing and gifted officer,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jack Mosher, his CO in Iraq. “The streets and alleyways of Ramadhi were Mark’s natural habitat. His time was now, and he knew it. He was ready.” Mosher quoted the young soldier: “I am not afraid to go, sir. I have people who love me.”

1LT Mark Dooley honored the people he respected by hanging photographs on the wall of his room. In one corner, there are family pictures of those who served their country dating back to his great-great-great-great grandfather who fought in the Civil War. Across the room hangs a photograph from Mogadishu, Somalia, of the American servicemen who were killed when their helicopter was shot down in October 1993. Dooley understood sacrifice and did not want those memories to ever fade away.

On Memorial Day 2006, President George W. Bush quoted Mark in a speech at Arlington. “Before he left for his tour, he gave his parents a last letter, just in case,” Bush told the crowd. “He wrote, “Remember that my leaving was in the service of something that we loved, and be proud. The best way to pay respect is to value why a sacrifice was made.'”

On that day, Marion said, they decided that Mark should be buried at Arlington. “He would really be proud,” she said. “Mark understood what it meant to honor someone.”

Mark Dooley graduated from Norwich University and also graduated from the Army’s Ranger School

“People enjoy life around him,” Amelia Gilman a friend from Cornish, NH, said tearfully. “The thing I like most about Mark is the person you get to be when you were around him.”

Marion Dooley seemed comforted by her son’s surroundings. He is buried in Section 60 designated sacred ground at Arlington for heroes of Afghanistan and Iraq. “We know that our nation will be guarding you,” she wrote in a letter to her son. “As long as our nation endures we know you are being cared for in this sacred location.”


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